Why Redraw the Map of Africa: A Moral and Legal Inquiry

64 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2009

Date Written: 1995


This article questions the legitimacy of the African state and the imperial cartography on which it is based. It argues that African states are conceptually faulty because they are the crude and thoughtless handiworks of European colonial powers. It is the artificiality of the African state that has been responsible for its failure to cohere into a nation that is viable. The piece argues for geographic and normative re-articulation of the African state - by smashing the current states - to endow them with moral, political, and legal legitimacy. It concludes that democratic entities are unlikely to develop where pre-colonial nations and peoples find no rationale in the imposed state.

Keywords: Cartography, colonialism, moral legitimacy, legal nullity, post-colonialism, imperialism, international law, maps, sub-nationalism

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Makau, Why Redraw the Map of Africa: A Moral and Legal Inquiry (1995). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, 1995, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1526722

Makau Mutua (Contact Author)

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

626 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716 645-2311 (Phone)

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